Afternoon all! Sports Mole
's live pre-season coverage continues from Singapore as Everton face Arsenal in the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy. Arsenal comfortably beat a Singapore Select XI in the semi-finals of the competition on Wednesday, but they will face a much tougher test here against Roberto Martinez
's Everton, who beat Stoke City on penalties in the semis.
First and foremost, let me bring you up-to-speed with the team news.
EVERTON: Joel; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Garbutt; Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley; Naismith, Kone, Deulofeu
ARSENAL: Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Chambers, Gibbs; Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshere; Ozil, Giroud, Walcott
So there we have it. Everton boss Roberto Martinez
has rung the changes from their clash with Stoke last time out, with Joel Robles, John Stones, Seamus Coleman, Tom Cleverley, Steven Naismith, Arouna Kone and Gerard Deulofeu among those coming into the XI. Kone will lead the line ahead of Romelu Lukaku, who is on the bench in Singapore along with the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley
As for Arsenal, the big news is that Petr Cech makes his debut for the Gunners between the sticks. Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla
, Theo Walcott
and Olivier Giroud also come into the team. Chuba Akpom's hat-trick against Singapore is not enough to keep his spot as Arsene Wenger
selects a strong XI for the final here. Two strong lineups on display.
As mentioned, Arsenal booked their spot in the final of the competition with a comfortable 4-0 win over a Singapore Select XI on Wednesday. It took a little bit of time for the Gunners to make their mark, but they were ultimately far too strong as Akpom scored a treble in a 4-0 win. As for Everton, they played out a goalless 90 minutes with Stoke City, before winning 5-4 on penalties.
It would be fair to say that some pre-season matches are a little one-sided, but that will not be the case here between two Premier League rivals. Both are building up to the start of the new league season, with Everton hosting Watford on August 8, while Arsenal are at home to West Ham United on August 9. The weekend before, Arsenal are also in action as they face Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley.
In terms of pre-season, Everton will face Hearts on July 26, before facing Dundee two days later. A clash with Leeds United will follow on August 1, and a second team will face Villarreal on the Sunday. Arsenal, meanwhile, will travel home for the Emirates Cup next weekend and have confirmed matches against Lyon and Wolfsburg before the end of the month. Busy times for both teams at the moment!
In terms of transfer activity, it has been a fairly quiet summer window for Arsenal thus far. As mentioned, Cech, who debuts here, has come in from Chelsea, but not too much else has occurred at the Emirates Stadium. Everton, meanwhile, are currently facing a battle to keep hold of in-demand John Stones, but they have managed to bring in Cleverley and Deulofeu, who both start in this one.
In terms of the recent results between the two teams, four of the last six league fixtures have ended level. Arsenal were 2-0 winners at the Emirates last season, but the points were shared in a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park back in August 2014. The result is obviously not all-important in this one, but both managers will be looking for strong performances in Singapore. We are almost ready for kickoff.
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PREDICTION! It is always difficult to predict what will happen in pre-season games, especially between Premier League teams. I think it will be very tight for long spells due to the difficulty of the conditions in Singapore. I am going for 1-1 after 90 minutes and Everton to triumph on penalties.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first 45 minutes. It must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium as Arsenal get the first period underway.
The ticket sales for this match were up around 51,000 this morning, and there really is a strong atmosphere inside this impressive ground. As expected, Arsenal have taken control of the possession in the opening couple of minutes. Let's hope for a good game between these two English rivals.
Both goalkeepers have had early touches of the ball here, but neither side has really threatened in the final third thus far. Everton are just seeing a spell of possession after a confident Arsenal start.
Deulofeu has the chance to threaten for Everton after collecting the ball in a wide position, but the Spaniard's touch is too strong and Arsenal have a goal kick. Good tempo to the early moments as Ozil attempts to find Walcott down the other end, but Joel Robles is quick off his line to claim.
CHANCE! Deulofeu shows incredible pace to drive away from Gibbs before making his way into the Arsenal box, but the winger's low cross into Kone is cleared. Some pace from the Spaniard!
Half-chance for Arsenal this time as Walcott finds himself centrally inside the Everton box, but Garbutt just does enough to force the England international into a weak shot. End-to-end football here.
Possession football from Everton in the last couple of minutes, and Martinez's side are finding plenty of space in wide positions. If it were a boxing match, Everton would be just ahead on points for me.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of minutes, but Everton remain the team on the front foot. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if there is one - could be vital.
Kone is seeing plenty of the ball for Everton at the moment, but the striker's touch has been a little wayward in the opening 16 minutes. Not too much from Arsenal down the other end, but the crowd raise their volume when Walcott has space in the final third. Still goalless in Singapore here.
Arsenal enjoy a spell of possession as they continue to work the ball in the final third, but the Gunners are finding it difficult to break the final line of defence. Still no real opportunities thus far.
Walcott has only Joel to beat following a cross from the right, but the England international was in an offside position when he collected the pass. Nevertheless, Joel made a really smart save.
In truth, this is not a great game at the moment. Both teams are enjoying decent possession, but neither has been able to find that touch of quality in the final third. Typical pre-season game!
GOAL! Everton 0-1 Arsenal (Walcott)
Arsenal take the lead in the 22nd minute as Walcott bursts onto a pass from Cazorla before finishing past Joel. Super run and smart finish from the Englishman, who has been very dangerous thus far.
It is not really happening for Everton in the final third at the moment as Kone attempts to combine with Naismith, but Cech is out to claim. Down the other end, Walcott continues to stretch the back-line.
Time for a drinks break as Stones receives some treatment...
... we are back underway. It is fairly warm inside this stadium to say the very least.
I suspect that Everton boss Martinez will look to introduce Lukaku at the interval, or at least early in the second period. Kone just has not kept hold of the ball and Everton are struggling in attack here.
Everton are enjoying more of the ball at the moment, but they are still struggling to find that elusive pass in the final third. In truth, Cech has had a very straightforward Arsenal debut thus far here.
Half-chance for Arsenal as Ozil finds Ramsey outside the Everton box, but the Welshman's effort was always moving wide of the post. Still 1-0 to the Gunners with 34 minutes on the clock.
SAVE! Arsenal come close to scoring a second as Giroud spins inside the Everton box before attempting to find the bottom corner, but Joel is on hand to make a one-handed save.
Everton are really struggling to cope with Arsenal at the moment as the Gunners continue to force the issue in wide positions. Wenger will be by far the happier of the two managers thus far here.
Arsenal again have the chance to break as Gibbs advances down the left, but the full-back runs into trouble and Everton manage to clear their lines. Little over five minutes of the first half to play.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Everton have the ball in the back of the net as Kone converts after Cech had palmed a Naismith header onto the crossbar, but the offside flag was raised when Naismith made contact with a whipped free kick from Garbutt. Much better from Martinez's side there.
Much better from Everton in the last few minutes, but they are still vulnerable to the counter attack as Arsenal commit players forward each time they break. Still 1-0 to the Gunners at the moment.
Ramsey attempts the spectacular after meeting a deep cross from the left, but the Welshman's effort was always moving high and wide of the crossbar. Everton break down the other end with Cleverley, but the midfielder's curled effort was never testing Cech. That could be that for this first period.
The fourth official indicates that we will play one additional minute.
HALF-TIME: Everton 0-1 Arsenal
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Arsenal leading the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy courtesy of a 22nd-minute goal from Theo Walcott. Everton have had a couple of decent moments in the final third, but the Gunners have been the stronger side thus far.
BENCH WATCH! Everton boss Martinez is expected to ring the changes at the break, with the likes of Lukaku, Mirallas, Barkley, Pienaar and Howard among those hoping to feature. As for Arsenal, youngsters Akpom and Iwobi are in reserve, along with more experienced faces in the shape of Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal. Changes galore are expected!
Fitness is obviously the most important part of pre-season for any club at any level, but with a trophy up for grabs here, there is definitely an extra incentive. Just a reminder that Arsenal will travel back for the Emirates Cup next weekend, while Everton are next in action against Hearts on July 26.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period in Singapore. Can Everton force an equaliser? It is the Merseyside outfit that get the second half underway here.
SUBS! Everton have made two changes at the break, with Barkley and Mirallas replacing Naismith and Deulofeu. Arsenal, meanwhile, have replaced Wilshere with Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsenal have started the second period on the front foot as Ramsey combines with Walcott inside the Everton box, but the latter's low cross towards Giroud is just cleared by the stretching Stones.
You just get the feeling that a second Arsenal goal here would kill off the Everton challenge, even at this stage of the match. The Toffees have really struggled to make their mark in the final third.
The match is very open at the moment as Everton force the issue through the middle, but once again the move breaks down with Kone, who has struggled to get into this match. This is a pre-season match, but Arsenal are looking really good at the moment. Walcott's goal remains the difference here.
SAVES! Cech is forced into a smart save to deny Garbutt, who had struck one from outside the box. Arsenal break immediately down the other end and Joel is on hand to deny Cazorla.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Arsenal to score a second as a mix-up inside the Everton box eventually presents Walcott with a clear shooting opportunity, but somehow he fires wide!
CHANCE! Another incredible opportunity for Arsenal as Oxlade-Chamberlain breaks down the right before delivering a super cross towards Giroud, but somehow the French forward cannot make contact. Any touch would have taken the ball flying past Joel. All Arsenal at the moment.
SAVE! Bellerin is next to go close for Arsenal after breaking towards the Everton box, but the Spanish right-back's strike is saved by Joel. It does appear that a second goal is coming.
GOAL! Everton 0-2 Arsenal (Cazorla)
And there is the second goal. Arsenal double their lead against Everton as Cazorla turns outside the Everton box before flashing his effort into the bottom corner. In truth, it had been coming.
CHANCE! Big chance for Everton to hit back as Jagielka picks out the head of Kone inside the Arsenal box, but the striker's effort is over the crossbar. That would have made things interesting!
SUBS! Double change for Everton as Lukaku and Osman replace Kone and McCarthy.
Another half-chance for Arsenal, but Walcott fires high and wide after good work from Ramsey.
GOAL! Everton 0-3 Arsenal (Ozil)
Arsenal score their third of the match as Ozil combines with Cazorla before finishing past Joel. Terrible defending from Everton it must be said. Jagielka and Stones were nowhere to be seen there!
Everton have been second-best by some distance in this match.
Arsenal again come close as Walcott's pace takes him beyond the Everton defence, but Joel is quick off his line to make the clearance. This could get a lot worse for Everton with 25 still to play here.
Little over 20 minutes of football remaining in this one and I would be surprised if we had seen the last of the goals. Everton are attempting to press forward, which is leaving all sorts of space for Arsenal.
Everton's legs seem to have gone as Oxlade-Chamberlain breaks down the right, but the England international cannot pick out Walcott inside the box. Mirallas attempts to force the issue down the other end, but Bellerin is quick across the turf to make the clearance. Still 3-0 to Arsenal here.
CHANCE! Arsenal come close to making it 4-0 as Oxlade-Chamberlain finds space inside the Everton box before clipping one towards the far post, but his effort just moves wide!
SUB! Arsenal make another change as Arteta replaces Walcott.
Both teams take the opportunity to have another drinks break here.
While Wenger is joking on the sidelines, Martinez looks a worried man. This is only a pre-season game, but his team have been well and truly out-played in Singapore. It hasn't even been close here.
GOAL! Everton 1-3 Arsenal (Barkley)
Everton hit back through Barkley as the England midfielder makes use of a poor mistake from Oxlade-Chamberlain before hammering one into the top corner. Super finish from the youngster!
SUBS! Arsenal ring the changes as Debuchy, Coquelin and Akpom replace Bellerin, Cazorla and Giroud.
If Everton can score another goal in the next few minutes then it would set us up for a grandstand finish! Martinez's side have been disappointing here, but that was a piece of magic from Barkley.
Everton have a free kick in an advanced area as Arteta brings Barkley to the ground...
... CHANCE! Garbutt's delivery is met by the head of Barry, but Cech holds on!
Little under 10 minutes of football remaining and this has turned into a really good game. Not too much occurred in the first period, but there have been so many opportunities since the restart.
The spectators will be pleased with what they have seen in this final, especially in the second period. Both sides are committing numbers forward at the moment as we enter the latter stages.
SUBS! Double Everton change as Browning and Hibbert replace Stones and Jagielka.
Not too much to report in terms of chances at the moment, but both teams are still threatening each time they break forward. Hopefully there is still at least one more goal in this game here!
Possession football from Arsenal as they pass and probe in the Everton half of the field.
SAVE! Akpom has the chance to score a fourth for Arsenal after breaking towards the Everton box, but the striker's effort is saved by Joel. Still time for more goals in this clash!
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional two minutes in Singapore.
Half-chance for Everton as Lukaku's presence inside the Arsenal box allows Mirallas to have a strike on goal, but his effort was always comfortable for Cech. Arsenal will indeed lift the 2015 edition of the Premier League Asia Trophy - they have been the best team in this short pre-season tournament.
FULL-TIME: Everton 1-3 Arsenal
So there we have it. Arsenal win the Premier League Asia Trophy with a 3-1 win over fellow Premier League side Everton. It was an enjoyable final in Singapore. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to stick around for plenty more pre-season coverage. Until next time!